Study Guide

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Language & Communication

Language & Communication

Communication and understanding go together like Gertie's cowgirl costume and Halloween. In E.T., Elliott and E.T. struggle to communicate at first. They're from enormously different backgrounds. But once they learn how to communicate, they really communicate.

E.T. employs nonverbal communication cues, like his supersized, glowing finger. Gertie teaches E.T. how to speak English (with an assist from children's educational television). E.T. builds an interplanetary communication device out of household junk. And Elliott and E.T. share a telepathic bond, where they can communicate without uttering a word.

In the end, Elliott and E.T. share their needs, their wants, and their emotions, and come to a mutual understanding that suggests that, if we can communicate, we can overcome our differences.

Questions About Language & Communication

  1. Why does E.T. choose to communicate almost exclusively with children?
  2. What's the significance of the Speak & Spell toy?
  3. What are three ways that Elliott and E.T. communicate nonverbally?
  4. If you could teach E.T. ten words—and only ten words—what would they be? Why?

Chew on This

E.T. shows that any crisis can be averted if we just learn how to communicate.

Elliott's communication with E.T. improves his ability to communicate with his own family.